The Rainbow Music Hall first opened 34 years ago this week with shows from Jerry Jeff Walker

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buckfifty.org

If you were living in Denver thirty-four years ago this week, the Rainbow Music Hall would've been the talk of the town. After a grand opening gala featuring Jerry Jeff Walker, who performed three sets on two back-to-back nights at the venue, suddenly, the humble movie theater multiplex at the corner of Evans and Monaco became a prime concert destination for a slew of iconic acts such as Bob Dylan, Van Halen, Tom Petty and U2.

See also:
- Rainbow Music Hall now officially only a memory
- Piece of Rainbow Music Hall lives on at Twist & Shout
- More Rainbow Music Hall memorabilia unearthed

Suffice to say, Denver was a very different town from what you see today. Today, of course, the Mile High City is teeming with venues, so many, in fact, that it's genuinely hard to decide what's more impressive: the fact that there's enough music to keep the venues filled night after night or that there are enough music fans on the Front Range to sustain them all. Back then, according to Fey, who purchased the building in the summer of 1978, there weren't a lot of clubs in Denver at the time.

"I had had the Family Dog and Ebbetts Field, and we played at Mammoth Gardens for a while," he recalls, "but we didn't really have a place where a younger group could play. So we were looking for a place, and I found a triple theater on the corner of Evans and Monaco, the Wolfberg Theaters. They weren't doing anything, and it looked like it was for sale. So I went in there, and I sold it [the idea] to them."

As soon as Feyline took over the property, the walls that separated the three theaters came down (thus the sight-line impairing columns that were left behind) and the space began being converted into one large theater, which held around 1,400. Once the renovations were completed, the venue was christened the Rainbow Music Hall -- after a like-named venue in England, according to Fey -- and the grand opening date was set. Tickets for the opening performances were $7.50 and available exclusively through Select-A-Seat, a company that Fey later sold to a guy who eventually sold his stake to Fred Rosen of Ticketmaster.

In addition to Fey, as you'll see from the original program from the gala posted below (originally unearthed by buckfity.org) there are a bunch of prominent names credited with helping getting things underway, including AEG Live Rocky Mountain honcho Chuck Morris, ListenUp Audio, who installed all of the sound, Dan Fong, who provided photos for the lobby, the late Wendy Kale of the Colorado Daily, who penned the copy, and iconic producer, Bob Ferbrache, who's listed under "Maintenence." Until Fey sold the building to Walgreens and the venue closed in November 1988, for nearly a decade, the Rainbow Music Hall hosted an array of iconic acts, many of which got their start performing at the venue.

Keep reading to see the original program from the Rainbow Music Hall.


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11 comments
Brett Garske
Brett Garske

My Dad took me to a comedy benefit show called a Fit of Laughter with Robin Williams, Roseanne Bar, Dennis Miller, and Louis Anderson on 9/30/86. Good times.

Chriss Hoffman
Chriss Hoffman

First show by the Police, and Tackhead 1989!!!!!

Chris Estus
Chris Estus

Twisted Sister!!! I remember being there when they filmed all the .38 Special videos. No place ever better to see a show. A friggin Walgreens!!!!

Steve Caudle
Steve Caudle

Many great moments, but one cool one... I have a photo I took of Rindy Ross of Quarterflash, taken as she was taking a picture of me, as well as the Polaroid of the photo she took of me while playing "Take Another Picture. ".

Troy De Baca
Troy De Baca

Peter Murphy solo high as F on X! First and only show I've ever seen there and it was GREAT!!!

mspjh1
mspjh1

I was there to see Willie Nelson- there was no alchohol allowed but I snuck in a Coors for me and a friend. We popped the top and the next thing we knew an usher was there to take the beer away. It was a great place to see music.

Will_
Will_

I saw so many diverse shows there, Cheap Trick, Rick Deringer, Zebra, Black Flag, Siouxsie and the Banshees, among others. It was a sad day when they closed, seeing the Rainbow sign above the Walgreens one afterwards was always a slap in the face.

SxPxDxCx
SxPxDxCx

Not sure if it was actually the very last show at the Rainbow.  But it was billed that way.

Voivod, Vio-Lence and Aggression.  I think it was Voivod's tour for Dimension Hatröss.


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